All posts by Graeme

ALLin Podcast Episode 12: A Community of Radical Inclusion

A Community of Radical Inclusion is a sermon preached by Graeme Codrington at the Melrose Campus of Gracepoint Methodist church in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016. It lays out both a Biblical and historical case for including LGBTQI in our churches, and affirming them as made in God’s image. 

Resources:

ALLin Podcast: Episode 11: Gender and Sport

Sport is about finding the fastest and strongest human. Almost always, this turns out to be a man. In order to allow women to compete in elite sports, we created a category for “women”, and have excluded men from competing in this category. But for over 100 years, we’ve battled to define who a woman is in sport. Back in 1936, for example, both the gold and silver winners of the 100m accused each other of being men. A “nude parade” was required for all elite women athletes – to literally stand naked in front of a panel of judges to prove they were women. This was changed in the 1960s and 70s to a “female passport”. It then shifted to chromosome testing, and today a court has confirmed it relates to hormone levels. But none of these are adequate, and all have been flawed.

This bonus episode of the ALLin podcast looks at the fascinating history of how sport has tried to define who a woman is, and what it means for us that they have essentially failed to do so in over a century.

Of course, sport is merely an example. This also applies to how we might define who can go to a girls school, or who gets counted as a woman on your Board or Executive leadership team if your country requires a specific quota of women in those positions.

This bonus episode concludes the mini-series on “Are there only two genders?”. The answer, it is clear, is NO.

Resources:

ALLin Podcast Episode 10: Did God create only two genders?

Genesis 1 and 2 tell two different creation stories, both culminating with the creation and marriage of two people. This was a Middle Eastern, black haired, brown eyed, cisgender man and woman. But does that mean all people have to Middle Eastern, black haired, brown eyed and cisgender? And does it mean all marriages must be between only a man and a woman? If not, how should we be reading Genesis 1? 

This is another one hour long episode, and you should ensure you’ve listened to Episode 9 before you listen to this.

Once you’ve listened to it, please let me know your thoughts and questions.

ALLin Podcast Episode 09: There Are More Than Two Genders

ALLin Pod is back after a short break with a two episode mini-series on “God made them male and female”. In this episode we look at the question: “How do you know if you’re male or female?” The answer will surprise you, because it is not nearly as simple as you think it is.

This episode looks at the science, biology and creation facts around gender, sex biology, sexual orientation and a number of other factors that determine male and female. We’ll see that all of these exist on a spectrum, and between 7 and 20% of the population exhibit some mixture of genders based on these factors. In addition to our longest episode yet (at just on an 1 hour), there is a list of highly recommended readings below, and a PDF slide deck to download and follow along.

RESOURCES:

ALLin Podcast: Episode 08: Abomination!

Our study of the Old Testament verses dealing with homosexuality concludes with a detailed word study of the concept of toebah ( תּוֹעֵבָה), translated as “abomination” or “detestable”. This word is used 117 times in the Bible, and it is very clear what it is referring to… and it is NOT sexual sin. 

Resources:

ALLin Podcast: Episode 07: Leviticus 18 & 20

The ALLin podcast provides resources and insights for Christians who affirm the LGBTQI community. In this episode we look at the two Old Testament Laws that talk about male gay sexual activity. We look at the context, the Holiness Code and ancient Israel’s sexual ethics.

Summary: The commands against gay sex in Leviticus 18 and 20 were given to the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land, and they were about the people who already lived there. Look at the first few verses of Lev 18 and 20 and you’ll see clearly that these Laws were about what the pagan nations did in their temples. These temple rituals included tattooing your body, shaving your head and having gay sex with teenage boys. They also included child sacrifice. And God said to the Israelites: don’t do any of these things in MY temple. These chapters in Leviticus are not meant to be a code of sexual ethics for all time, but a specific set of restrictions related to temple Worship in the pagan nations that surrounded Israel. They do NOT apply to gay people today. And they have nothing to say about gay marriage.

Resources:

ALLin podcast: Episode 6: The Old Testament Laws

Episode 6 of ALLin pod looks at how we should interpret Old Testament Laws. Do they still apply to us, as Christians today? If so, how we do distinguish between those laws that do apply and those that don’t? And what does this mean for the two verses in Leviticus that prohibit “men sleeping with men as they would with a woman”? It’s a longer episode than normal (44 minutes), but well worth this deep dive into how to apply Old Testaments laws in our modern world.

The Reason God Creates LGBTQI people

Back in 2016, James O’Keefe presented a TEDx talk entitled “Homosexuality: It’s about survival – not sex“. It has since had more than 2.5 million views.

The reason for the interest in this video is that James presents a compelling theory of why we need LGBTQI people in the world.

James presents his theory from the basis of evolution. As a Christian, if you prefer to refer to Creation and God’s choice rather than nature’s choice, it doesn’t change James’ theory. He suggests that at first glance it might seem strange that LGBTQI people exist – they don’t appear to make sense for evolution (or creation and God’s command to reproduce).

Continue reading The Reason God Creates LGBTQI people

If the Church Were Christian – a manifesto for the emerging church

I was recently recommended the 2011 book by Philip Gulley, “If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus” (Available at Amazon). I am busy reading it, but love the general idea.

It is a wonderful bringing together of many of the concepts embodied in what has become known as “the emerging church” – a movement of progressive Christians and churches around the world trying to build a “new kind of Christian” (to quote one of the men who kicked it all off, Brian McLaren).

In his book, Gulley suggests ten ways that we can rebuild spirituality, Christianity and the church today. I am paraphrasing, borrowing from his chapter titles and main themes:

  1. Jesus needs to be a model for living – someone who’s life we follow – more than an object of worship.
  2. Affirming people’s potential is more important than reminding them of their brokenness.
  3. The work of reconciliation should be valued over making judgments and division.
  4. Gracious behaviour is more important than right beliefs.
  5. Inviting questions is more valuable than supplying answers.
  6. Encouraging personal exploration and experimentation with faith is more important than group uniformity.
  7. Meeting actual needs is more important than maintaining institutions.
  8. Peacemaking is more important than power or position.
  9. We should care more about love and less about sex.
  10. Life in this world is more important than the afterlife.

It’s tough to argue that these ten things are not very Christ-like.
Continue reading If the Church Were Christian – a manifesto for the emerging church

Richard Rohr on New Reformations and new growth from the flames

Richard Rohr writes a daily devotion, which I highly recommend you sign up for.

On 27 October 2019, he wrote this stunning reflection:

Church: Old and New

Rummage Sales

I have come to set fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already blazing. —Luke 12:49

People are rightly concerned by the loss of property through fire. However, forestry workers understand that from the destruction caused by fire emerges new growth, new life. Time and again, this also has been shown to be true in the church as we seek to follow the way of Christ in light of expanding human knowledge and understandings that continually affirm the movement of the Spirit.

In 2017, Protestants and Catholics honored the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. When Martin Luther (1483–1546) posted his “95 Theses” or complaints on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany, European Christianity had become too focused on meritocracy and hierarchy, losing sight of the Gospel. The Roman Catholic Church itself now admits it is always in need of reformation. The perpetual process of conversion, or reformation, is needed by all individuals and institutions. We appear to be in the midst of another period of significant turmoil and rebirth, thus my focus on Old and New: An Evolving Faith in this year’s Daily Meditations.

In North America and much of Europe, we are witnessing a dramatic increase in “nones,” people who don’t identify with a particular faith tradition. While I ache for those who have been wounded by religion and no longer feel at home in church, the dissatisfaction within Christianity has sparked some necessary and healthy changes. Episcopal Bishop Mark Dyer (1930–2014) aptly called these recurring periods of upheaval giant “rummage sales” in which the church rids itself of what is no longer needed and rediscovers treasures it had forgotten.

As Phyllis Tickle (1934–2015) reflected, in the process of building necessary structure in institutions, we eventually “elaborate, encrust, and finally embalm them with the accretion of both our fervor and our silliness. At that point there is no hope for either religion or society, save only to knock the whole carapace off ourselves and start over again.” [1] This is a difficult and frightening task, which is why we only seem to do it every 500 years or so! If we look at church history, we can see the pattern. [2]

With each reformation, we don’t need to start from scratch but return to the foundations of our Tradition. We don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater but reclaim the essential truths. And remember that truth anywhere is truth everywhere. With each rebirth, Christianity becomes more inclusive and universal, as it was always meant to be.

It takes a contemplative mind to witness these changes without resistance or defensiveness. When living within a sacred tradition, everything can seem essential and untouchable. But all Christians are already worshipping in “reformed” churches—often many times over—whatever our denomination. Let’s take heart and have faith that the Holy Spirit is with us through it all.

References:
[1] Phyllis Tickle, “The Great Emergence,” Radical Grace, vol. 21, no. 4 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2008), 4-5.

[2] If the Great Reformation “occurred” in 1517, the Great Schism took place in 1054 with the heads of both the Eastern and Western churches mutually excommunicating each other. Look back another 500 years or so to the 6th century and we find the birth of the Oriental Orthodox Church (which still has 60-70 million adherents today) as well as the rise of the flourishing monastic movement. Even further back, in the 1st century, earliest Christianity began as a radical offshoot from Judaism, Jesus’ own faith. For a fascinating and accessible description of this history, see Phyllis Tickle’s book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why (Baker Books: 2008).

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “500th Anniversary of the Beginnings of the Reformation,” (October 31, 2017), cac.org/reformation-500th-anniversary/.